Roy Nelson has finally slimmed down and at UFC 143, he gets to show if his new physique will get him to the top of the heavyweight mountain.
The only problem is that this time, he isn't facing a worn out Mirko Cro Cop, who was a great striker but who age has diminished with time.
This isn't to say that on paper Nelson doesn't have a chance. Werdum may be a brilliant Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, but so is Nelson. Both are black belts in said discipline and both have practiced it for years. Both Nelson nor Werdum have held those ranks for a while.
The only thing that Nelson has done recently is slim down. He finally has lost the extra fat that alienated him among some fans and his boss and head of the UFC Dana White.
It's not surprising that some were negative towards Nelson. It's hard to take a fighter seriously when they don't seem to take themselves seriously. That isn't to say that fighters shouldn't be allowed to joke and have a good time, but that they at least physically take care of themselves.
After all, fans pay good money to see them fight and when they don't put forth their best effort and seem to have something that they could have done better, fans tend to get angry. Nelson might not care about that, but if he had retired without losing the extra weight, it might have plagued him.
The only problem is that Nelson is now 35 and has fought most of his career as a heavier man carrying extra weight.How much does the loss of that weight free up his ability to strike?
How much extra cardio does it give him?
Will it affect his ability to use his weight to stifle his opponent?
Nelson may have trained at a lighter weight for his fight with Cro Cop and is probably doing the same thing for this fight against Werdum, but without the benefit of multiple years of fighting at his new weight, it's going to be hard for him to answer all of these questions.
Werdum, on the other hand, has consistently stayed about the same weight throughout his career and, at 34, he probably knows what his body can and can't do.
And even though Werdum is coming off a loss, it is Nelson who is only one fight removed from a two-fight losing streak.
Add in that he has only had a recent win against a worn Cro Cop and it spells out more trouble for Nelson than Werdum.
He also has had past problems with Dana White and if he is 1-3 in his last four fights, it would give White an excuse to cut him.
So if Nelson does step into the cage and lose, which is something that may very well happen, it may just end up with him getting a pink slip at the same time.